Chinese scientists have found that graphene-wrapped sponges provide an effective and fast way to absorb spilled crude oil when heated with an applied electric current.
A research team led by Yu Shuhong, a professor at the University of Science and Technology of China, published the study in Nature Nanotechnology on April 3, according to an article released on the university's website.
The team wrapped porous material with a thin, waterproof graphene layer, put the coated sponge in water mixed with crude oil, and applied an electric current to the graphene to warm it up. The process reduces the viscosity of crude oil, thus speeding up the oil-absorption time, the website said.
Crude oil spills in oceans have been frequent in recent years, damaging the environment and affecting the economy. The spilled oil is hard to collect and clean up via traditional technology. It is believed that the new study may be widely used to treat oil spills in the future.